Following a national search, Pratt Institute has named Quilian Riano as the new dean of the School of Architecture. An accomplished urban designer and academic with over 15 years of teaching and practicing architectural, urban, and landscape design, he joined Pratt in July 2021 as assistant dean. Riano, who becomes dean effective May 8, 2023, has led the School of Architecture as interim dean since August 2022.
“Quilian brings to his role as dean a deep respect for the school’s historical strength as a leader in design, planning, and management of the built environment, along with a commitment to lean into a future that advances disciplinary excellence and to ensure that the school is a leading voice in addressing major issues of our time,” said Provost Donna Heiland. “He is a generous and generative leader who will work collaboratively with students, faculty, and staff, building on the strong foundation he created during his time as interim and assistant dean.”
Riano earned a Master of Architecture from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and a Bachelor of Design: Architecture from the University of Florida’s School of Architecture, in addition to an associate degree in arts and another in applied science. Over the course of his career, he has emerged as a leader whose commitment to architecture and design is inextricable from his commitment to collaborative practice and social justice.
“I am honored to have been selected as the new dean of Pratt Institute’s School of Architecture,” Riano said. “For the last couple of years, as both interim and assistant dean of the school, I have had the pleasure of seeing firsthand the great work of our students, faculty, and staff. The energy and passion I see coming out of studios and classrooms from students and faculty is palpable, as our community is busy addressing the most important social and environmental issues we face through design, technology, planning, and management—all while using both established knowledge as well as experimenting with the latest technologies, scholarship, methods, and models.”
He has regularly worked on forming collaborative platforms that create paths for change, whether using existing processes or making new ones to fit a current need. He is the founder and lead designer of DSGN AGNC, a studio that brings art, architecture, and urban design together in the public interest with clients including the Queens Museum, the New York City Department of Transportation, and the National Park Service. He was a driving force in the creation and leadership of Architecture 2030, a nonprofit that was established to address the climate crisis through architecture and design, as well as the Architecture Lobby, which was formed by a group of architects and academics to advance the profession as a whole and its working conditions. He is also an initiator and core member of Dark Matter U, a national educational endeavor formed in 2020 by a group of Black, Indigenous, and BIPOC people in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the national reckoning over anti-Black policing tactics. It is now a national democratic network of educators that seeks to create anti-racist courses and studios, as well as public programming and curriculum.
In addition to his work at Pratt, Riano has taught at a range of institutions, including Kent State University, Columbia University, Syracuse University, and Wentworth Institute of Technology. He is a frequently invited speaker, and his publications include edited, collaborative, and single-author works. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Architectural League of New York, where he is vice president for architecture, and is a board member of the journal Places.